Devils slowed to a crawl in loss at Rocky

0121126063743_largeBy MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Writer

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Sean Taylor is open to suggestions.

And when it was suggested he start treating his pre-game speech more like a halftime talk, the Quincy High School boys basketball coach didn’t balk at the idea.

“We just have to find a way to get out of the gates quicker,” Taylor said.

Friday night, it looked like a crawl.

The Blue Devils attempted just four field goals in the second quarter, scored only 16 first-half points, trailed Rock Island by 16 points and nearly overcame it all before falling 50-44 in Western Big Six Conference action at the Rocky Fieldhouse.

“We’ve been a slow-starting team, really, the entire year,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if they need to be more relaxed or more intense. I thought we were really focused. We had a great week of practice. I thought they were focused in the locker room.

“So I don’t know what it is, but I’m certainly open to suggestions.”

Quincy (10-6, 2-3 WB6) has trailed at the end of the first quarter in five of its last six games and at halftime in four of those. Rock Island’s 30-16 edge at halftime marked the third time the Blue Devils found themselves down by 14 or more points at the break.

And all three times, they fought to get back into the game.

Only once, though, did the Blue Devils rally to win.

“You can’t play tentative,” Taylor said.

Rocky (10-8, 4-1) took advantage of that.

Quincy trailed 11-8 with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter after Harrison Elbe saved a ball from going out of bounds in the corner in front of Rock Island’s bench and flipped it to DeAngelo Dean for a layin. Unfortunately for QHS, The hustle didn’t lead to any momentum.

The Rocks’ Marquel Beasley tipped in a missed 3-pointer for the final basket of the first quarter, and a 7-2 spurt to start the second quarter — sophomore Keenan Shorter scored twice and sophomore Trey

Sigel buried a 3-pointer — pushed the lead to double figures.

When the Blue Devils went the final 3:31 of the half without a basket, they were left with a mountain to climb.

“At halftime, I thought they were a little panicked,” Taylor said. “I do think they thought they were ready for this game.”

The intensity and effort changed in the second half as evidenced by Elbe, Mason Fairley and Martin Kvitle diving for a loose ball on the opening possession of the third quarter. By the end of that quarter, Quincy had whittled the deficit to nine points and given itself a chance.

“They were ready to fight to get back in this game,” Taylor said.

Ultimately, it put Rocky on its heels as Quincy closed within 44-42 on Kvitle’s 3-pointer with two minutes remaining in regulation.

“We had to (respond) because they had us on the ropes,” Rocks coach Thom Sigel said.

The teams traded baskets before Quincy had the chance to tie with 46 seconds remaining, but Dean, who led Quincy with 16 points, was blocked from behind by Beasley. After a turnover by Shorter, who dribbled the ball out of bounds in the backcourt, the Blue Devils tried to go back to Dean.

However, Rocky sophomore C.J. Carr picked off Fairley’s entry pass. Carr was fouled and made two free throws for a 48-44 lead with 28 seconds remaining. Kvitle missed a pair of 3-pointers on the ensuing possession, and Beasley hit two free throws to seal it.

It kept Rocky is a first-place tie with East Moline at the midway point of the WB6 season. The Panthers won at preseason league favorite Moline 46-35 as the Maroons played without WB6 scoring leader Anthony

Lindauer, who is suspended for five games for violating team rules.

“We’ve done what we’ve needed to do at home,” said Sigel, whose team is 4-0 at home in WB6 play. “The tough stretch is still ahead of us. From where we’re at, we’re pretty happy right now.”

The Blue Devils are in a tougher situation. They are two games out of first place in the WB6 with another road game looming next week at East Moline.

“We just have to play to win every game,” Taylor said. “We don’t have it in our control anymore. We just have to do what we can do. … We have to be prepared to win every game.”

QHS boys finish off upset of Peoria Central

0115126062021_largeBy MATT SCHUCKMANHerald-Whig Sports Writer

During Saturday morning’s shootaround, Quincy High School boys basketball coach Sean Taylor asked the Blue Devils to do one thing against state-ranked Peoria Central.

“He said, ‘You just have to compete and compete and compete,'” junior guard Mason Fairley said.

The Blue Devils did that until the very last second.

Quincy scored on four of its final five possessions, closing the game on a 9-3 run that allowed the Blue Devils to upset the Lions 70-64 at Blue Devil Gym and sweep a pair of weekend games for the first time since the first weekend of December. It is also Quincy’s first victory over a state-ranked foe — the Lions are No. 3 in Class 3A — since upsetting Lincoln in the quarterfinals of the Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic in 2010.

“It’s a step over the hill for us,” senior forward Mike Davis said. “When we all come together, there’s no telling what we can do.”

Or how high the Blue Devils (10-5) can go.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Davis, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. “We should be No. 3 now.”

Davis said that tongue-in-cheek and with a chuckle, but he and the rest of the Blue Devils believe their effort is telling of what they can accomplish.

Quincy fell into a 7-0 hole in the game’s first 80 seconds and trailed by as many as eight points in the first quarter. However, Fairley’s layup off a DeAngelo Dean assist and Dean’s pair of free throws in the final 29.9 seconds cut the deficit to four.

“It’s what we expected,” Fairley said. “They try to get up big and win the game in the first five minutes. We just had to hang in there and keep chipping away, keep fighting and keep digging.”

That’s sort of become this team’s mantra.

“You just got to keep trying,” Davis said. “Never give up.”

Or back down.

After a charging call on Quincy’s first possession of the second quarter, the Blue Devils scored on nine of their next 10 possessions and went to halftime tied at 37.

“At halftime, it’s anybody’s game and we were like, ‘We have to win this thing,'” said Fairley, who made three 3-pointers and scored 17 points. “We knew we had the advantage and they were starting to lose their cool. We had to come out and we had to put it to them.”

The Blue Devils did so with defense.

Peoria Central forward Trey Kellum, the team’s leading scorer at nearly 15 points per game, scored 15 in the first half but made just one field goal in the second half and finished with 19 points. Without his inside presence, the Lions were forced to take perimeter jumpers, which is exactly what the Blue Devils hope for.

Peoria Central shot 42.1 percent overall, but the Lions were just 3 of 8 from 3-point range in the second half.

“And then, again, for being outsized, outstrengthed and outmuscled, we competed on the glass,” Taylor said.

The Lions owned a 33-32 edge on the boards, but the Blue Devils limited them to just two offensive boards in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Quincy had three offensive boards in the fourth quarter, including a pivotal tip-in by junior reserve forward Jason Salrin early in the fourth quarter that put the Blue Devils ahead 54-52.

“We’ve been getting on Jason all year to attack the glass,” Taylor said. “He’s 6-7 and pretty athletic, so go and get tips and he got a big one tonight.”

It stayed a one possession game until the Blue Devils made five of six free throws after the Lions’ Josh Augusta drew a technical foul with three minutes to play. A one-point deficit turned into a four-point edge, although back-to-back baskets by Aldonis Foote tied the game with two minutes to go.

That’s where smart play won the game.

Kvitle, who had 20 points and five assists, scored off an alley-oop from Dean with 1:51 to go to give the Blue Devils the lead for good, and they made 7 of 8 free throws to close it out.

“Last year, they whooped us,” Davis said. “We were about to fight and everything. We just said, ‘We’ll get them next year.’ We sure did.”